The Plush Side of Camping


By Jill Adler 2013 camping has made a detour from the "ultralight" trend of the last decade and I couldn't be happier. I felt like I was the sloth because I preferred a queen-sized air mattress in my tent over a 6" wide pad that barely went to my butt. I get that in the past, we camped out of necessity. In other words, to get to remote regions where few if any hotels exist, you camped; and you want to carry the lightest gear possible for your trek. Today, however, it's all about camping for camping's sake; even if you're doing it out of the back of your car.

Campers want more creature comforts than ever before. We want to make ourselves that home away from home. Cots, tables, air mattresses, chairs are all getting plushier- and a little heavier - this summer but that doesn't seem to be an issue for consumers.

"They want it all- lightweight, packable, durable, and comfortable," said Eureka's Mark Hrubant. "They want those nice features to enhance their outdoor experience." And that experience isn't necessarily hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering or climbing. It's just as often plain "camping". So it's okay if gear weighs a little more and costs a little more. "Our customers are willing to spend if it means they're getting more," said Greg Henry from Crazy Creek. "Customers want versatile features that add value. And they want gear that lasts." The Crazy Creek AirChair (MSRP $124.50) is a ground chair that's also a self-inflating, full-length air mattress.

Crazy Creek has also seen a growth in those wanting to get off the ground and is cultivating designs to meet that demand; like their new folding table. Eureka, too, is making tables that fold flat and that come with netting on the sides and underneath for extra storage.

Kelty/Wenzel has folding chairs with built-in trays so the potato salad doesn't wind up in your lap. Add in DishTV's new remote satellite system and you may never want go home.

Puff Puff and Away

It's not just air; it's not just foam. It's an air/foam mattress that's getting the buzz for 2013. Both Therm-a-Rest and Eureka are rolling out these plush options for your overnight ground stays. The Eureka Dualis ST (MSRP $89-119) is a patented air mattress that combines a self-inflating pad and an air tube mattress.

The pad provides the warmth and cush while the air tubes offer the conformability. Therm-a-rest's NeoAir Dream (MSRP $199-219) has a contour-hugging, open-cell foam topper, covered with a plushy, machine-washable, micro fleece shell all covering a custom air mattress which some say is more cozy than a hotel bed.